Easy Listening by Way of the Stars
The Canadian singer-songwriter’s latest album Impossible to Hold, for the most part shows Christina Martin at her mellifluous best
Review by Andrew Steel
At first glance, Christina Martin’s latest long-player Impossible to Hold seems to have almost been plucked out of a 1980s time-warp, throwing burbling synthesisers and arena chords out left, right and centre in an eclectic, endearing hodgepodge. It’s an apt combination for the Canadian singer-songwriter, whose guitar tones are liberally lifted from the time of The Pretenders; if relatively static rather than forward-facing in its sound, this collection of songs at the very least serves to her versatility of skill seven releases in.
Produced and co-written in part with Dale Murray, whose credits include cult alt-hip-hop hero Buck 65 and indie outfit Cuff the Duke, Impossible to Hold finds Martin in default confessional storyteller mode from the off; its title track billows forth over wintery licks straight from Chrissie Hynde’s archives and most of the ten-track collection that follows bears its inspirations proudly. It’s the tracks where she steps away from her heroes that allows her to shine best; mid-record highpoint Winter turns delicate frustration and grief into echoing, soft gospel whilst Lungs Are Burning, her riposte to drug addiction and mental health discord, builds upon its Fleetwood Mac-esque West Coast rock shape with stockier, Springsteen chords to create something stylistically off-kilter and individualistic.
Not everything stacks up. Foreign, a mid-tempo low-slung grizzled rocker lacks either velocity or venom to make its scuzzy riffs snarl, and Noise and Toys passes by in a blur of slow-waltz Americana. For the most part though, Martin makes for a pleasantly engaging singer-songwriter, mellifluous and unafraid to wear her musical heart on her sleeve. As her Born in the U.S.A.–channelling denouement Where The Dark Meets The Light soars late in the day, she sweeps you up in her statements with the comforting familiarity of her influences; easy listening by way of the stars.